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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 220318
Last updated: 6 December 2019
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Date:23-SEP-1916
Time:night
Type:Silhouette image of generic be2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
Owner/operator:51 Sqn RFC
Registration: 2474?
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Blind Lane, near Tollgate Farm Airfield, Mattishall, Norfolk -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RFC Tollgate Farm, Mattishall, Norfolk
Destination airport:
Narrative:
23.9.16: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, 51 Squadron, RFC Thetford. Written off (destroyed) when Hit tree on take-off while engaged on a Zeppelin intercept, and crashed off Blind Lane, Tollgate Farm Airfield, Mattishall, Norfolk. (Probably attempting to intercept German Navy airships L13, L14, L16, L17, L21, L22, L23, L24, L30, L31, L32 and L33 which set out to bomb London and the Midlands on the night of 23/24 September 1916).

Pilot - 2nd Lt Michael Hubert Francis Thunder (aged 34) - died 24.9.16 (next day) of injuries sustained. There are reports that say that, although badly burnt, he managed to crawl away from the aircraft to a nearby hedgerow bank, where he was picked up and taken to Thorpe St. Andrew War Hospital in Norwich where he later died of his injuries.

Here is the death certificate and a report in the Norfolk Chronicle:
Death Certificate
24th Sept 1916
Thorpe St Andrew Norfolk War Hospital R.D,
Cause of Death: Accidentally burnt and his death was occasioned through the petrol of an aeroplane he was flying becoming ignited after colliding with a tree and falling to the ground.

FLYING OFFICER KILLED
An inquest was held this week on the body of a flying officer, who died from injuries following a mishap late on Saturday night. The Coroner told the jury that the deceased was brought to the Hospital in a severely injured condition. It appeared that he had been flying in the dark, when the machine collided with a tree. That caused the machine to come to the ground, and for some reason or other the petrol took fire.

Deceased was very badly burned, and died a few hours after having been admitted to the Hospital. Margaret Eileen Gladstone, of Dane Court Lodge, Broadstairs, 27, wife of Charles Elsden Gladstone, Captain RN, and sister of the deceased, gave evidence of identification. Her brother, who was 36, was a second lieutenant in the RFC. He returned to England from the Straits Settlement just before Christmas last, and joined the RFC at the beginning of the present year.

Deceased was a native of Co. Meath. A verdict of accidental death was returned."

He was the first airman to be killed serving with 51 squadron. Six officers of the Flying Corps acted as pall-bearers, and the officer in command arrived by aeroplane. He had qualified as a mining engineer and spent some time working in Argentina and Malaya before returning to the UK.

Michael Thunder’s second claim to fame is that he was the grandson of Augustus Northmore Welsby Pugin, the leading architect of Victorian Britain and famous for his Gothic style of architecture in many churches around the country, not forgetting his most famous work: the Palace of Westminster in London.

2nd Lt. Michael Thunder now rests with his grandfather in St. Augustine’s Church, Ramsgate which was also designed by Augustus.

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/366060/thunder,-michael-hubert-francis/
3. http://www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.uk/archive/7000287336-thunder-m.h.-michael-hubert
4. http://www.thepuginsociety.co.uk/uploads/2/0/5/6/20562880/one_poppy_for_michael_thunder_as_published_2017-11-10.pdf
5. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/88383-rfc-take-off-accident-died-of-burns/
6. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114812478
7. http://www.mattishall-village.co.uk/airfield-1.htm
8. http://www.janetandrichardsgenealogy.co.uk/great_war_dead_buried_in_ramsgat.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
29-Dec-2018 21:24 Dr. John Smith Added
01-Jan-2019 15:45 stehlík49 Updated [Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description